Regus Closing in on MWB Business Exchange Acquisition

MWB - Knightsbridge
One of MWB's signature offices in Knightsbridge

Regus is on an end of the year acquisition spree. After snapping up Regent and Corporate Office Centers last week, the business center giant’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Marley Acquisitions Limited, is now closing in on MWB Business Exchange.

Regus last week offered £40 million to acquire MWB Business Exchange, which is the second-largest provider of serviced office space in the UK and the largest in London. An acquisition would add 64 business centers to Regus’ UK network, making it an attractive possibility for the brand.

The Regus offer is about 20 percent higher than MWB’s stock price.

Officing Today recently reported on the financial difficulties surrounding MWB Group. Despite Business Exchange’s apparently healthy outlook, to which CEO John Spencer claimed it would be “business as usual” for the serviced office company, it now seems as though Regus is set to use the situation to its advantage.

Regus could not immediately be reached for comment, but according to UK site analysts at Oriel Securities said: “Critical will be the level of efficiency savings that Regus will be able to extract from the combination.”

MWB Group’s board also issued a statement regarding the Regus cash offer, which equals 61.576 pence per share. Based on the statement, it seems MWB is still looking for additional suitors to come to the bidding table.

MWB Group is “now commencing a sale process for some or all of the 75.22 percent of the BX Shares currently held by an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of MWB.” That sale process will run through Feb. 16, 2013.

MWB also said, “the sale process may or may not result in the receipt of a higher offer for the BX Shares than the Regus Offer; and that, even if the sale process does not result in a higher offer for the BX Shares than the Regus Offer, that Regus is bound by today’s announcement to proceed with the Regus offer in any event.”

This dance with MWB Group has been going on for more than a year. Regus offered £60 million, then withdrew it, in June 2011 after the target acquisition refused to “engage in meaningful discussions.”

Business Exchange provides more than 20,000 workstations and 300 meeting and conference rooms. The Business Exchange network includes regional mid-market offerings under the City Executive Centers.

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Business Exchange is focused on Greater London with a majority of its centers in larger prime West End and City buildings. Business Exchange focuses on the smaller and medium sized businesses. The company does not rent more than 15 percent of its total space to any one company in any single building. As part of its strategy of working closely with clients to provide an increasingly attractive environment, all new centers are unbranded and designed with a more contemporary feel.

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